Coronavirus live updates: Washoe lab to start processing COVID-19 antibodies test

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Watch: Dr. Mark Pandori of the Nevada State Public Health Lab talks about the antibodies test Reno Gazette Journal

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This breaking news story will be updated throughout the day on Wednesday, April 15.

Antibodies test coming to Northern Nevada soon

5:15 p.m.

There soon may be a way in Northern Nevada to see if people previously had the coronavirus, according to the director of the Nevada State Health Laboratory, Mark Pandori.

Unlike the current test to see if you are currently ill with the virus, the antibodies test sees if at some point a person did have COVID-19.

“It won’t tell you if you are currently infected,” Pandori said.

The test is a blood draw and would have to be ordered by a doctor or the health district.  The Nevada State Health Lab would only be processing the blood draw test and not a finger prick test that has also made headlines around the country.

 “From a public health surveillance perspective that is trying to gather intelligence about how much infection is out there or was out there, I would think it is fair to call it a game changer,” he said.

“It is going to provide public health with a very powerful tool to, at some point, determine how much infection was really out there.

“In terms of medical response, it isn’t a game changer,” he said. “It only really says what did happen.”

Pandori said it will be up to doctors and the health district about how the new testing would be used.  His lab will just process the tests and make them available.

He said he didn’t know who would have access to the test but he imagined it being used for health care workers.

“It might be useful to know if they have been infected because sending them back to work might be critical,” he said.

The test could arrive as soon as next week, but Pandori said there likely could be very limited supplies as the entire country is looking for the same resources.  

WCSD says to light it up for class of 2020

4 p.m.

The Washoe County School District is encouraging businesses and individuals to turn on and up their lights, signs, marquees and front porches at 8:20 p.m. Friday to honor the class of 2020. The district is also encouraging people and organizations make signs to remind seniors to “Be the Light—and Never Give up on Your Dreams!”

In a release Wednesday, the district said, “We would like your help in conveying an important message to our students: although our classrooms are dark, our community’s care and encouragement for them is shining brightly.”

While the district and state have not yet announced when and if school will return this year, graduation ceremonies remain in limbo.  The University of Nevada, Reno announced last month its May graduation ceremonies were canceled. School districts across the country have announced that schools would not reopen before summer.  

On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he had not yet decided if schools would return after his current April 30 mandate to stay closed but said his decision would be based on medical opinions.

More: With an uncertain return to school date, WCSD rolls out distance learning through May 8

Washoe reports 14th death, 17 new cases, 11 recoveries

10:09 a.m.

A Washoe County man in his 70s has died of COVID-19, the county’s 14th coronavirus related death, according to a release from the Washoe County Health District.

The county also announced 17 additional positive COVID-19 cases and 11 more recoveries.

Currently, 32 people are hospitalized and 41 have been discharged from the hospital.

In Washoe County, 54 percent of short-term hospital beds are occupied, 49 percent of ICU beds are occupied and 23 percent of ventilators are in use.

3,211 known cases, 130 deaths in Nevada

7:19 a.m.

The number of known Nevadans who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 has increased to 3,211 on Wednesday, a 123-case increase over what was previously reported.

The number of deaths in the state remains at 130, according to new numbers released by the Nevada Health Alliance.

So far, 27,655 people have been tested.

Clark County reports 50 new cases, 9 more deaths

8:48 a.m.

Officials in Clark County are reporting nine more deaths related to COVID-19 and 50 new cases, according to new numbers from the Southern Nevada Health District.

That brings the total number of deaths there to 115 and the total number of known cases to 2,559.

Wednesday’s increase in cases is the lowest number of new cases logged by SNHD in several weeks, according to a Reno Gazette Journal analysis of the case data.

Washoe County says doubling of COVID-19 cases has slowed

Wednesday, 7:13 a.m.

The Washoe County Health District said the rate at which positive COVID-19 cases are doubling has slowed down.

“We are beginning to see some effects of some of the sacrifices people are making as far as the closure of businesses and schools and people staying at home for Nevada,” said Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said.

The health district said the shorter the time, the steeper the curve and the faster the growth. The district said the path of doubling was “pretty fierce but has since slowed between the last double.”

  • 64 positive cases on March 26
  • 128 positive cases on March 31
  • 256 positive cases on April 5
  • *532 positive cases on April 14

The health district tests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with testing steadily increasing.

Tests have ranged from 200 to 280 a day; officials hope to do 300 a day.

Sisolak addresses bottleneck of unemployment claims

Nevada will backdate a flood of new unemployment claims stemming from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, extending retroactive payments to all residents who have lost their jobs since March 15. 

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the move in a Tuesday press conference with reporters in Carson City, where he said more than 300,000 residents had filed an unemployment claim over the past month — or roughly one claim for every 10 Nevadans. 

The state was never set up to handle such a massive spike in unemployment, Sisolak said, and holding up existing claims to fix that system would do more harm than good. 

Out-of-work Nevadans are still on track to receive an additional $600 in federal unemployment funds, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, though processing those payments has only added to the strain placed on workers at the state’s unemployment office.

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Workers set up quarantine trailers to temporarily house people with COVID-19 on March 31, 2020. Reno Gazette Journal

COVID-19 patients in 33 percent of state’s occupied ICU beds

Tuesday

The Nevada Health Response reported 340 patients have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, according to report released on Tuesday.

Health officials said 59 percent of hospital beds are occupied statewide while 10 percent of those are filled by COVID-19 patients.

Also, while 69 percent of all ICU beds are occupied, 33 percent of those occupied beds are COVID-19 patients.

Health officials also said 37 percent of the state’s ventilators are in use. Of that 37 percent, 39 percent are being used by COVID-19 patients.

The report did not provide a total number of hospital beds, ICU beds or ventilators being used throughout the state.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, 32,178 tests have been performed. Of that total, 26,661 people have been tested. Some people may receive multiple tests. 

In total, there are 3,088 positive cases and 130 people have died in Nevada.

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Nevada state death toll rises to 130; Washoe sees 13th death

Tuesday

Ten more deaths were reported Tuesday—bringing the statewide death toll to 130, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services website.

Washoe County recorded its coronavirus-related 13th death Tuesday, a woman in her 50s with an underlying health condition.

In total, there have been 532 cases reported in Washoe County and 427 positive cases remain active. Ninety-two people have recovered.

‘We need to do this right away’:  Convention center to become alternative care site

According to the state agency’s dashboard, a total of 3,088 positive cases have been reported in Nevada.

In total, 32,178 tests have been performed statewide. Out of that total, 26,661 people have been tested, but because of testing shortage, the number of people who have been screened is limited. The true number of sick people is likely higher than what the state has reported.

6 more cases, including a minor, in four-county region

Tuesday

The Quad-County Emergency Operations Center also reported six new coronavirus cases in the region Tuesday. This brings the total number of cases up to 49, with 11 recoveries.

The new cases are a Douglas County woman in her 50s, two Carson City women  in their 50s, a Lyon County woman in her 40s, a Douglas county minor and a Douglas County man in his 30s.

COVID-19:  CARES Act payments slow down Nevada unemployment insurance site 

800 National Guard called out to help address pandemic

Tuesday

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday that about 700 Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen will help in the fight against COVID-19.

The additional guardsmen bring the total number to 800 who are under military orders to support the state’s response to the outbreak—the largest state activation in Nevada National Guard History, according to a news release.

Sisolak called 102 soldiers and airmen on state military orders on April 6, just two days after President Donald Trump approved the state’s major disaster declaration and additional federal funding.

Officials said this is the second activation during the COVID-19 response.

The guardsmen most recently called into service will help provide medical support, food bank and warehouse logistics. They will also transport supplies and help set up alternate care facilities.

A majority are expected to report in Las Vegas, which has the most of the state’s confirmed cases and deaths.

In total, 30,000 National Guardsmen have been activated nationwide. That includes about 3,200 soldiers and 1,200 airmen with the Nevada National Guard.

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